Man with Child on Shoulders Walking Around Cranberry Bog.

In 2024, I’m refocusing on getting my family outside more with the goal of spending at least 1000 hours outside with my kids this year. It sounds ambitious, even intimidating, but this is not the first time we’ve done it. The prospect of being more intentional with our time and recording our progress has me excited to begin again.

In 2021, when my kids were younger and the world was very different, The 1000 Hours Outside movement gave me something to aim for. The premise is simple. Aim to prioritize time spent in nature by logging 1000 hours outside (an average of 2.7 hours a day). All this helps to counteract the over 1200 hours children spend in front of screens on average each year.

Why embark on this again in 2024?

As my kids have gotten older and school has become a part of the picture, I’ve found it harder to get us outside consistently during the school year. There are many more demands on our time, and it’s easy to let everyone collapse on the couch after a long day.

One of the ways I maintained my sanity when my kids were younger was by getting them (and me) outside as often as possible. A few years later, our focus has shifted, and I find myself missing it. As a family, we looked forward to our adventures enjoying nature together. Plus, filling in the tracking sheet after we returned home gave us all a sense of accomplishment. As 1000 Hours Outside Founder Ginny Yurich said, “The premise is simple, but the impact is profound.” I learned a lot on our first journey to 1000 hours outside, including the following things.

Embrace all weather

It wasn’t long ago when rainy days equaled movie days at our house. “Mom, it’s raining,” my kids would squeal with glee, quickly followed by, “Can we watch…?” After spending more time outside, their first question on a rainy day is more likely to be, “Can we jump in muddy puddles?” I like to think I’m raising all-weather children, and I love that rain or snow doesn’t faze them. Just don’t forget to pack a change of clothes (or two!).

Go with the natural flow of the seasons

Here on Cape Cod, summer and fall lend themselves to oodles of outdoor time. After completing our first round of 1000 hours outside, I am confident that our outside time will naturally increase as the weather gets nicer. We only logged 12 hours outside in January that first year. This January we did better, logging over twice that at 25 hours! We continue to aim to do better, but not beat ourselves up because we know that nicer weather is on the way.

Be prepared 

I felt more confident adventuring as I got better at anticipating what we might need and packing appropriately. We often left the house with several bags to haul all the snacks, changes of clothes, towels, and more. The backpack I carry holds everything—snacks, water bottles, first aid kit, hand sanitizer, wipes, and most importantly, our folding travel potty. Thanks to that potty, our adventures did not slow down during potty-training. To this day, it allows us to enjoy our adventures without requiring us to stay close to a bathroom.

It all counts 

Not every hour outside can be epic! Our outside time has included hikes, swims, painting, camping, bike rides, and picnics. It’s also been filled with a lot of puttering around our yard doing things like gardening, weeding, reading, laying in the hammock, and playing countless (countless!) games of hide and seek. The key is variety and going with the flow.

Let them lead

Our time outside fosters my kids’ curiosity and fuels their creativity. One of my favorite memories was when my son lined up all the chairs from our patio to make a train, showed us to our seats, and took our tickets as he pretended to be the conductor. He took us on a ride to the mountains, the North Pole, and the beach, all without leaving our backyard.

Local inspiration is just a click away

Fellow Cape Cod Moms contributor Lissy Perna’s Get Outside Cape Cod book and blog is a fantastic resource. I’ve been following her since the early days, and I credit her with inspiring so many of our fun adventures.

We’ve made a good start so far this year and I’m a little giddy anticipating all our upcoming adventures outside, exploring and enjoying nature as a family.

Ally Piper
Ally is a summer visitor turned year-round resident celebrating her 10th anniversary of calling Cape Cod home. She is a writer and artist squeezing her creativity into the cracks while raising two energetic curly-haired kiddos (currently 6 & 4). Her children’s book GOLDEN HOUR: A CAPE COD STORY tells the story of a typical summer day for her family while visiting her grandparents in Orleans. Now, Ally counts herself incredibly lucky to be able to share all the beauty and magic of Cape Cod with her husband and children. From hiking to boating, you’ll often find them exploring and taking advantage of everything the Cape offers families.


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